Following criticism from Stewart Jackson the newly-returned Conservative MP for Peterborough, Opportunity Peterborough Chief Executive Steve Compton talks to Paul Stainton about why they might be considered a success. Broadcast at 07:20 on Tuesday 11th May 2010 in the Paul Stainton Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.
STAINTON: Peterborough isn’t being sold as it should. That’s according to our new, old, Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson. On this programme yesterday he laid out his priorities for the coming term in office, and blamed Opportunity Peterborough for not doing enough to promote the city.
JACKSON (TAPE) Well one of the big things that we haven’t done, and a big failure, and I have to say I lay it at the door of Opportunity Peterborough, because it’s no-one else’s fault. We have not sold Peterborough on the national stage as robustly as we should. We haven’t had ads on the sides of taxis, ads in the Financial Times, radio ads, nationally. We need to get really serious about businesses coming to this city, and say Peterborough is a fantastic place to live, work and do business. And I think we’ve failed in that.
STAINTON: (STUDIO) Steve Compton is from Opportunity Peterborough. Morning Steve.
COMPTON: Morning Paul.
STAINTON: Pretty damning, isn’t it?
COMPTON: Well I’m surprised that Stewart made those sort of comments to be honest because you know Opportunity Peterborough has been doing an awful lot to promote Peterborough over the last couple of years. I mean we launched the brand in two thousand and nine, and since then we’ve been rolling it out with a whole series of different sorts of campaigns.
STAINTON: Can you name something that you’ve delivered on time, on budget? Can you name something that we should be proud of?
COMPTON: Well just over the last year alone, you know, through the work we’ve done through marketing Peterborough and working with existing businesses here in the city we’ve generated around a thousand new jobs for Peterborough.
STAINTON: Where are those?
COMPTON: Well there’s there’s you know some of the existing companies that are here like Budget Group, AB Agri, Coloplast, Dresser-Rand, obviously the Garden Park development as well. You know there’s a whole range of businesses we’ve been working with. We’ve attracted twelve new companies to the city in the last year, so there’s an awful lot that’s gone on where we’ve attracted people to Peterborough, by selling the benefits what the city has to offer.
STAINTON: Twelve new companies? Which ones?
COMPTON: Well some of the names we can’t we can’t announce at the moment, because they haven’t launched themselves in the city, but they’re they’re here, they’re building their premises, and they’re getting themselves ready to go. This is always part of the problem with inward investment Paul, because you know you’re talking to a lot of these businesses and a lot of it is commercially confidential, but it doesn’t mean that nothing’s going on, you know? We have attracted some really good companies to the city, and there are a lot of other big companies in the wings looking to come to Peterborough. I notice in Stewart’s comments there he said we haven’t advertised ourselves internationally, but you know at the moment we’re dealing with inward investment inquiries that we have generated from North America, from China, from South Africa, from Germany. You know last year we went to a Chinese Trade fair in Guangzhou. We were the only UK city that was there. So we’re out promoting Peterborough, and putting it on the international stage.
STAINTON: Do you think a lot of the work you does goes unnoticed?
COMPTON: Well this is always part of the problem, right. And as I said you know inward investment is always a difficult area because there’s a lot of commercial confidence with companies, and you can’t be shouting from the rooftops. I really would love to, some of the people that we’re talking to, because it’s really exciting for the city. I mean you know just recently you mentioned on the news this morning you know two hundred and thirty new jobs from Royal Sun Alliance coming to the city. Amazon have come to Peterborough. They’re bringing around fourteen hundred new jobs. All of that as a result of marketing Peterborough, making Peterborough the place where people want ot come and invest.
STAINTON: Can you really claim credit for all of that?
COMPTON: Well it’s all it’s .. yes, because it’s all part of placing Peterborough in the marketplace isn’t it, and it’s you know these businesses come to us and we show them round the city, we show them what the city has to offer, and you know they’re always very impressed with Peterborough, it’s almost like an under(?) and that’s the whole point of the marketing campaign, is to raise people’s awareness of Peterborough, and what it’s got to offer.
STAINTON: Could you do more though?
COMPTON: We’re going to do a lot more over the coming year. I mean I think one of the issues I think people need to understand is that this isn’t the days of the Development Corporation where there are millions of pounds to spend on marketing. You know there are restricted budgets these days. So we have to be smarter and more targeted in the way that we do our marketing of Peterborough which is what we do. And over the coming twelve months we’re going to be very much targeting businesses that are needed in the city to grow the economy, get the right quality of jobs coming into the city. And you’ll see a lot more of that happening over the next few months.
STAINTON: Many people rather unkindly call you Missed Opportunity Peterborough, when I speak to people. I mean, is that because of the climate we’re in, and the fact that you can’t progress as you’d like with North Westgate, and developments like that?
COMPTON: Well I think I think you know the economy hasn’t hasn’t helped the situation by any means. But you know these things always go in cycles, don’t they. And you know the developers of North Westgate and other schemes in the city will come forward at the right time. But I think the important thing is we get the economy in the city right, that it’s growing, that it’s strong, that the people in this city have high quality jobs and they have you know prosperity here, and that will attract other people to come and want to live in Peterborough.
STAINTON: Steve, thank you for that this morning. Steve Compton, Chief Executive of Opportunity Peterborough.